Thursday, January 29, 2009

Great Drinks, Bad Drinks

Last night was a lot of fun, and filled with a variety of interesting beverages. We started out at Drinks Over Dearborn, where we were pouring some cocktails and talking about our distillery. Even though it was very cold & snowy, some really great people came out and it was a blast.

Toward the end of the tasting, Winston, the Midwest brand ambassador for The Glenlivet came in. He was a lot of fun, and he also had brought a treat for Kyle, the owner of DoD - a sample of Glenlivet XXV. Winston graciously allowed us to try it as well.

The Glenlivet XXV
Some parts of the whiskey spend time in sherry casks, and it shows in a good way. Here are my notes: nuanced, enticing aroma; drier on the palate than the aroma suggests; rich, with well-balanced spice tones and a long finish of wood with hints of peat & caramel. Mid palate - vanilla, creamy, citrus peel. Lovely, and a nice treat on a cold day. I'm not sure I'd come up with $350 to buy it, but I really enjoyed it. Thanks Winston!

On to the Whistler
We'd been hearing about this new cocktail lounge and music space for awhile, but hadn't yet made it over there. When we arrived, it was packed - luckily we found one seat at the bar and staked it out. Turns out we had the best seat for a cocktail nerd like me - their resident mixologist Paul made most of the drinks right there. Paul was incredibly busy taking care of the crowd, but also a lot of fun and very attentive to his craft.

We tried a couple of his cocktails, including the Red Hook (Old Overholt, Punt e Mes and Maraschino) and the Cardinal's Blessing (Matusalem Rum, Yellow Chartreuse and Cherry Brandy). Both were well balanced, complex and delicious.

We sipped and listened to tunes by Matt Ulery's Loom (great, and an interesting mix of instruments - Matt on bass, with friends on accordion, trumpet/flugelhorn, drums and tenor sax).

At one point, some gentlemen came in and ordered a drink called the Golden Eel. One proudly declared that it was "off the menu" and a very special drink that they loved. I watched Paul make it, and he grabbed three things - gin, sweet vermouth and Jeppson's Malört. Later Paul mentioned that these guys were the only ones who ever ordered it, and that they used to drink Malört all by itself.

Digression on Malört
Malört is a Chicago thing, I've never seen or heard of it anywhere but here. It used to be made here, but now is made in Florida (do they drink this stuff down there?). And here's the gist of their marketing pitch - "Are you man enough to handle our two-fisted liquor?" And then they go on to say "Only 1 in 49 men will have a second sip" or something like that. Definitely targeted at a certain group of men, and needless to say, they are out there.

Malört is incredibly, incredibly bitter. More bitter than Campari, I realized (read on). I have had it one other time - I asked about it at a bar one time and they tried to talk me out of ordering it. They told me that when people come in and rudely demand their free birthday drink, that's what they pour. Undeterred, I tried it anyway. It struck me as very bitter, but that was about it. I seem to recall having a bit of fun with my companions that night, getting them to taste it without forewarning them, or something like that.

Back to the Golden Eel
Back to the Whistler - I ordered a Golden Eel. I'd had a couple of cocktails, and thought "how bad could it be," since it at least has some other good stuff in it. Plus, Paul insisted on toning down the recipe and using some nice ingredients. Here's the recipe he made, which as Paul said is basically a modified Negroni:

Golden Eel
1 oz Gin (We used our Distiller's Gin No. 6)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (we used Carpana Antica)
1/2 oz Jepson Malört

Wow was this bitter. More bitter than any Negroni I've ever had, and missing the good qualities of Campari. Paul graciously offered to take it away post haste, but since I knew what I was getting into when I ordered it, I wasn't going to let him do that. Instead, I asked him to add some soda water. And then some more soda water. That helped, really more of an Americano, but missing some of the flavor (but none of the bitter). Unless you're the 1 in 49, I wouldn't recommend that drink, but try one of Paul's other creations.

Then it was off to Kuma's Corner for some burgers.

1 comment:

Cristi said...

Hey Sonja! I was so excited to see your blog about Jeppson's Malort that I decided that I had to leave a comment! Malort is definitely a Chicago thing...have you ever noticed the Chicago flag towards the top of the label?! I actually found a bottle at the back of my parents' "liquor cabinet" (ie the cabinet above the fridge) this past Christmas. The bottle was half full so I know somebody was drinking the stuff, but my Mom didn't even know what it was let alone who might have drank it! But The Whistler isn't the only place that has Malort. At The Drawing Room, it's a favorite of quite a few of the staff and it's also in a cocktail currently on the menu. These special staffers love it so much that they shoot it and somehow convince customers to shoot it with them! The cocktail, called "The Bukowski" contains Malort, Drambuie, fresh basil, honey syrup, lemon and orange juice. It's the brain child of Charles Joly and Tim Lacey and is quite a delightful cocktail. The nose is an amazing blast of basil and citrus, with those elements hitting your palate first, along with a bit of sweetness from the honey and Drambuie. The Malort comes in at the end, but it's nowhere near as bitter as if you were to just shoot it. I can't wait to try the Golden Eel and will definitely be stopping in to The Whistler! Thank you for shining some light on Malort!

Bartender, The Drawing Room